by Natalie Finn | Tue., Jan. 24, 2017 5:00 AM
So, how is this season of The Bachelor working out for everybody?
While the big news going in was that Nick Viall was back to test the love waters for the fourth time after two rocky tours of duty on The Bachelorette and a redeeming stint on Bachelor in Paradise, that experiment has quickly taken a back burner to the evil in their midst, 24-year-old Corinne Olympios.
We're just going by the prevailing story line, of course. The reunion of Nick and fellow amorous wedding guest Liz Sandoz proved brief, leaving close to nothing for viewers to get up in arms over besides what so far is the pronounced uselessness of Corinne, who proudly boasts of running a "multimillion-dollar company" but also has a nanny who's the only one who can keep her fit-for-a-picky-11-year-old's food preferences straight.
Basically, all signs are pointing to She's-The-Worstville.
That nanny twist and the shameless way in which Corinne talks about not knowing how to do anything for herself might be taken as a more humorous plot point (like deluded dolphin girl—it was a shark!) if not for the fact that Corinne has also decided that getting naked will be the fastest way into Nick's heart.
Or at least his psyche.
It's as yet unclear whether she cares about anything more than sleeping with Nick before anybody else does, or whether she's given any thought at all to the whole "till death do you part" premise, in which case...
Well done, producers and editors! If there's a normal, relatable human being lurking within Corinne's guilelessly calculating and ultimately misguided exterior, we've yet to see it—and so the audience can continue along in virulent love-to-hate mode.
Corinne, of course, is hardly the first contestant on The Bachelor to put her most visible eggs in the sex basket—that's been going on for years now, and the show hasn't budged from its reliable too-sexy-equals-villain-to-all-the-women-but-not-the-clueless-guy narrative.
Back in 2011, Michelle Money rubbed all the other women the wrong way when she got frisky with Brad Womack (back for his second go-round) during a Sports Illustrated photo shoot, in a sandy display that just six short years later seems positively G-rated compared to the antics of the current season.
Similarly, Courtney Robertson was branded the femme fatale for her comparatively aggressive tactics, which included showing Ben Flajnik what "skinny-dipping with a model" was like and then making the poor winemaker exchange faux vows ripped right from Sex and the City.
Now, the socio-anthropological reasons for all the ire these women have caused are many. In regular society, a woman's choices regarding her sexual behavior are hers alone, aren't anyone's g-damn business and ideally shouldn't be judged, especially by other women. But singling out the ladies on The Bachelor who, at least as far as the editing is concerned, are raring to get hot and heavy the first chance they get has proved too successful for the show to want to portray their actions in a less scandalous way.
The Bachelor. Pitting women against women since 2002.
But perceived sexual aggressiveness hasn't been the only determining factor when it comes to singling out a villain over the years.
Vienna Girardi wore the proverbial scarlet "V" in 2010 because, according to the other women in the house, she was...fake. Season 17's Tierra LiCausi was less sexual napalm and more emotional hand grenade. Trish Schneider didn't win friends and influence people (female people, anyway) with her "Gold Digger--Like a Hooker Just Smarter" shirt.
Basically, every season has its subplot. And just as surely, whether the resident villainess ultimately factors into the Bachelor's final choice or his future in any way...
Nearly every woman who has starred in her own "can you believe what she did?" story line (and has lasted more than a week or two) has turned out to be not that bad in real life. They've even in some cases been...perfectly fine!
"That's definitely a part of who I am," Michelle Money said on Ellen in 2011, when asked about the accuracy of her portrayal on the show, after Brad denied her a rose one week shy of the four hometown dates. "I'm assertive and a go-getter—but there's also many sides of me that weren't shown."
Ellen gave her every opportunity to say she was playing a character for the cameras, but Michelle insisted, "Honestly, it wasn't. That was me...I left my 5-year-old daughter to go and pursue a relationship with Brad, and you know it took me awhile to kind of really figure out if there was a connection there or not. And once I felt that connection, it was like, 'I want to pursue that. I want to do all I can to ensure that he knows who I am and I know who he is. 'Cause if it's not supposed to work out, I want to get back to my daughter."
That actually sounds pretty rational, though it was seen on The Bachelor as unduly aggressive, a fate that befalls most of the women who announce early on that they're not there to make friends and are there for whomever the gentleman of the hour is. Even though presumably every single one of them feels that way.
"You're not as crazy as I thought," Ellen offered Michelle at the end of their interview. "I think anyone is crazy who voluntarily goes on The Bachelor," Michelle countered. "You have to have a little crazy in you."
Michelle kept the bad-girl rep through season's end, but has since been vindicated by as-normal-as-anybody-else appearances on Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise.
Vienna and Jake Pavelka, the man whose heart she had stopped at nothing to capture (we don't remember exactly what she did, but surely she did something) during season 14, had already broken up by the time she agreed to go on Bachelor Pad—where she ended up just being one of the bunch, albeit one who had to deal with her ex-fiancé being thrown into the mix.
"We had to go in strong," Vienna, who coupled up with Bachelorette castoff Kasey Kahl on Bachelor Pad and ultimately outlasted Jake, told People. "We're not villains. We're good friends with everyone on the show."
In 2013, her Bachelor franchise days behind her, Vienna told Radar Online she wasn't much of a reality TV fan, "because I understand now that reality TV isn't reality." Her advice for the hundreds of people who've followed in her wake? "Don't take anything to heart. No one really knows who you are and you have to understand that isn't just a TV show. It's entertainment. Make the most of the experience then move on."
Like Vienna, season 16 seductress Courtney "won" her Bachelor's heart in the end, despite the other women's repeated warnings to Ben Flajnik that he was being hustled. But it was tale as old as time when the war among the women only made Courtney more intriguing to him.
Eventually Courtney banked on her role as villain, capitalizing on her fame with the memoir I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends (yes, it was really called that) that went into fairly graphic detail about everything that occurred between them.
Not the classiest move ever, if classy requires keeping the details of your sex life completely to yourself, but it was definitely smart, considering how the show panned out for her. Courtney told the New York Daily News in 2014 that she was really thrown for a loop when her season of The Bachelor started airing.
"It was like my whole world was flipped upside down," she said. "I was kind of blown away. The part before they aired the show, before it started airing was the calm before the storm. And then it was mayhem for me."
Noting that her modeling career came to a "screeching halt," Courtney added, "I've been called everything under the sun. It was really hard for me."
True story: You may be playing at "how to win a guy in eight weeks," but millions of people are watching and judging your every move, from your outfit choices to how many times you "steal" the Bachelor away, let alone if you successfully seduce him in the ocean.
Speaking of stealing The Bachelor, the spotlight didn't have a chance when Tierra LiCausi was in the picture on Sean Lowe's season, which she was until right before hometowns.
And at least as far as Sean was concerned, what you saw was what he got out of the experience.
"Tierra never should have come on this show. She's not suited for this show," he said on his Sean Tells All special in 2013 after watching the season unfold, despite having defended Tierra's personality beforehand. "She doesn't know how to handle herself in this environment. She's a woman who...simply can't get along with her peers."
Finally, Sean said, he'd seen her "getting into arguments and fights with the sweetest, best people in the house."
By the time of his realization, Tierra was engaged, but no one was quite sure how to process that.
"If she is [engaged], I wish her all the best, but it may just be a hoax. Who knows? You know how rumors are," season mate AshLee Frazier told reporters at the time. "With Tierra, we can't really put too much past her. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case."
And yet even Tierra, who made sure to flaunt her engagement ring on the Women Tell All special (her engagement ended not long after), had the same simple explanation for what triggered her scene-devouring behavior.
"Would you go into a situation competing with a bunch of women, wanting to be friends with them and… be a best friend? No," she pointed out to Chris Harrison. And her outgoing personality was a subject of ridicule from day one, she said.
"It's difficult for me because I light up in a room, especially around people I'm comfortable with and when I walk into a room, I bring this joy and this smile and I'm happy," Tierra said, to much visible consternation from several other women. "But with people that immediately judge me and don't give me a chance to have that light and to be open and to show my personality, they immediately judge me based off of what I look like instead of the inner person, the heart I have, the good family I come from and everything that I value in my life, and all my morals that I have as well."
Basically, the woman who steals the spotlight with her inner light is never going to run away with the other women's hearts.
But even though we can all agree that we are watching a product of careful story-mapping and provocative editing when we watch The Bachelor, it remains hard to imagine taking Corinne in stride anytime soon.
If she goes home next week, she could still end up relegated to the novelty section of Bachelor history, remembered for all of the so-bad-they're-amazing qualities she's exhibited so far, but if she lasts much longer...
We could end up finding out at some point down the road that appearances aren't entirely what they seem.
While all is recorded and just waiting for our reaction as far as her Bachelor behavior goes, Corinne still has plenty of time to build her defense when it inevitably comes to that (provided she doesn't sleep through the Women Tell All special).
And she's already keeping company with someone who's been there and knows how much the Tuesday-morning quarterbacking can hurt.
"I have my eye on the prize, and me and Ben are going to end up together," Olivia Caridi confidently declared last year in the process of prostrating her pride for Ben Higgins' final rose.
Having already received the First Impression Rose, the seemingly self-obsessed news anchor mused during a later group date, "I'm sad that he didn't give me a rose. But I know his heart and I know that he couldn't give me a rose again. Hopefully as this goes on, he'll see that we're meant to be." (Yes, quite reminiscent of what Corinne said last week, after having already gotten the previous group date rose.)
But when the season aired, Olivia, who was dumped during the infamous two-on-one, was heartbroken by how people reacted to her. In addition to seeing the nasty things the other women were saying about her on the show, social media was all over her, with some commenters suggesting she'd be better off dead. (And let's be clear: In 21 seasons, there has yet to be any behavior on The Bachelor that has deserved that sort of hateful comment.)
"I was badly bullied as a child because I was overweight. It felt like I was in middle school again. I thought many times what it would be like if I wasn't alive," Olivia told the New York Post last April. She also revealed, lest anyone think The Bachelor doesn't care about its contestants' well-being, that producers offered her the services of a therapist to help her through that tough time.
That being said, to other women who might be considering going on The Bachelor, Olivia advised, "If you're so inclined, go for it!"
So who better than Olivia to guide Corinne through the online reaction that her portrayal on The Bachelor has prompted? And not only support her, but help Corinne maintain the courage of her convictions?
A photo posted by Olivia Caridi (@oliviacaridi) on
"One time Kanye said, 'I'm sorry, but these are the best TV villains of all time, OF ALL TIME.' #thebachelor#bachelornation #villainsgottavill#teamvillain #cheesepasta," Olivia captioned an Instagram pic of her with The Bachelor's new villain of the hour, being sure to call out the cheesy pasta that you know you've been craving since Corinne first mentioned it.
Their meetup also happened to include Olivia's cast mate Leah Block, who was eliminated in the same week after trying but failing to poison Ben's growing love for eventual fiancée Lauren Bushnell. "Villains gotta vill," Leah captioned a pic of the three of them.
A photo posted by Leah Block (@leahblock) on
But she also added some very important hashtags:
"#RealityTVCharacters #NotRealLife#IWouldntHurtAFly #FutureGirlBand#TheBachelor #BachFam." Food for thought, the lot of them.
So while it's too late to warn Corinne—as if she would've cared—about the immediate effects of baring one's soul and boobs on national TV, odds are there's a real person underneath that loosely tied trench coat, one who in the real world isn't the worst to the people who actually know her.
Unless she is. Truth be told, we haven't talked to everyone who knows her, so...
God speed, Nick.
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